NASA LENS

Two things are true:  1) sometimes the gods smile in your direction and 2) not all unsolicited emails are spam.  Last fall I received such an email from a woman in Boulder, Colorado.  She had inherited a stone from her father that had been in the family for decades.  It was now on her living room floor and needing to find a new home.

Ironically, only a week earlier I had returned home from the Denver Gem and Mineral show where I would historically find a few beautiful pieces to work.  This year I didn’t bring home a single crystal. While there were thousands of minerals for sale at the show, vendor after vendor chanted the same mantra…  The Chinese are buying up all the newly mined minerals, and there was no new production available.  There were no new crystals being unearthed for the dealers from Brazil and elsewhere.  Their businesses were hemorrhaging.  This trend of great minerals being consumed by the Chinese was now dwarfing the historic export of crystals to the United States.  I was afraid I too would be unable to find the great crystals I was searching for.

 

Fast forward again to the chance email about the wayward crystal that needed a new home.  It turns out that the woman’s father had been an engineer for NASA.  Over 40 years ago he purchased this stone in Brazil, thinking it may contain enough optical grade quartz to be cut into a lens or two for space technology.  In order to be used for electronics or optics it had to be a very pure quality of quartz and there was little to no interest in a relatively unattractive quartz crystal.  They must have decided this piece didn’t make the grade.   Instead, it was relegated serving as an occasional chunky, 117 pound doorstop.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Because of its description and without even seeing the crystal, I suspected that it might contain both great visual clarity and hidden mineralogical inclusions.   I purchased the crystal sight unseen and the boulder from Boulder was on its way to me.

 

The potential of the rough crystal was not evident to the untrained eye.  After all, it looked like a big dirty rock.  While my inner knowing was assuring me of the potential that lived inside; the hardened mineral coating on the skins of the crystal left my eyes saying “I hope you are right about this”.  As the first slice of my diamond-bladed saw removed the millions year old crust, the beauty trapped inside sprang forth. Under the crusty weatherworn and broken surfaces was a crystal with massive transparency.  The internal structure of the crystal included some marvelous multi-colored chlorite planes that must have disqualified it for the purposes of optics so many years ago.

 

After the initial shaping, my assistant Tim Turco spent the next several months refining the large planed surfaces with an immaculate polish, allowing the eye to see the previously un-seeable.

click image to enlarge

Its destiny was now revealed: it had become a lens into a fully preserved prehistoric other-world of majestic beauty and wonder.

 

NASA – Nature Appreciated Stimulates Art

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